I Have Some Bougie Dirt To Share With You

“In our best moments, we are no less than a garden that serves life, not ourselves.” Benjamin Vogt

I think Larry’s a little envious of my pet project, Grow Damn It, he’s been acting rather strange lately, but I thought I’d let you decide.

One day several odd packages arrive at the house from Amazon. Packages I did not order. Instead of Cheryl Oreglia stamped on the label, they identified Lawrence Oreglia as the owner. They are big and heavy.

My interest is piqued. Especially since I got interrogated last week about the adorable black and white toothbrushes, I ordered for the guest bathroom.

We all agree curiosity killed that cat, but I’ve also heard satisfaction brought it back. Come hell or high water, I’m going to satisfy my curiosity about those mysterious packages or die trying. 

When Larry pulls up in his truck, he says, “Great, my packages arrived.”

I’m like, “What arrived?”

He ignores my question and starts opening the boxes on the kitchen floor, oblivious to the fact they have recently been mopped. This is a rather narrow space, I act nonchalant but stay within view of the ritual unveiling of these perplexing boxes.

The first thing he pulls out is a jumper seat for a four-wheeler-type vehicle. One, we don’t have a four-wheeler that I’m aware of, and two, we are not purchasing one in the near future. We have a tandem bike, and that’s as off-road as we’re going to get. 

He looks slightly dismayed, but that’s the look he’s adopted since retirement, so his behavior is not alarming until he starts cussing, stomping about the kitchen as if he lost his marbles, and roughly tossing the poor little seat back in the now mangled box.  

After some sleuth-like deductions, I realized they sent us the wrong package, so we now have a jumper seat to return, and someone else has box one of Larry’s mysterious stuff. I love how life is always one step ahead of us. Often forcing us to slow down, make adjustments, and, when necessary, apply patience. Hello, universe, you’re messing with the wrong guy.

The next thing I know, he has package number two down on the floor as if he is about to wrestle with it on the kitchen rug. You know how they get into that crouched stance, then freeze until the ref blows the whistle, after which total mayhem ensues. I grab a towel just in case I have to end the match. 

Within minutes he’s struggling with these giant metal pieces and promptly carries them out to the backyard. I follow from a safe distance with the towel. 

An aside. Two doves recently made a nest in my succulent planter that is attached to the wall on the outside patio. They have laid two eggs that they are gallantly trying to protect. It takes two weeks to hatch dove eggs, and we’ve been chasing away not only crows but a falcon that has decided our patio has added some interesting dinner options.

As Larry is banging around with his metal sheets, he scares the mama away, and now I have to be vigilant until she returns.

I should also make you aware of the contention we’re currently dealing with about our plans for the backyard. I know, shocking as it seems, Larry and I are not rolling merrily, merrily along. 

Here’s the problem. He needs glasses. My vision for the yard involves a new table that seats twelve, like the apostles, but not really. We just happen to have a large family that also enjoys sitting around the table and partaking in some blessed bread and wine (with a Martha-like mother, but that’s another blog). 

The images in my mind include a built-in fireplace to keep the occupants warm on those cool California nights but will also add some much-needed ambiance to the space. I know. It’s a brilliant vision. One that is not appreciated by everyone. And by everyone, I speaking of the one in need of glasses.

I should add my vision has made absolutely no progress. In fact, it’s been displaced with a new plan, as if it was of little or no consequence. But let’s not go on a total rant. The last thing I want to do is sway your opinion. 

The next thing I know, Larry rents a gismo from the local toolshed and proceeds to remove a twelve-foot by twelve-foot square of well-groomed grass from the back of the yard. When I dared to ask him about this appalling behavior, he said, “I’m putting in a garden.”

I said, “A garden?” You always want to repeat any shocking news that someone tells you so you can be sure you got it right. 

He responds, “That’s right. I’m growing vegetables this summer.”

I said, “What about my table and fire feature?”

“We have to have food to eat.”

“We have to have a place to eat.”

“Life is about doing things that matter first.”

“That’s what I’m talking about.”

“Honey, let’s not put the cart before the horse.”

“You’ve been listening to too much Luke Bryan.”

He finally laughs and says, “Here’s to the farmer.”

“Here’s to the farmer’s wife.”

And so it goes. 

The next thing I know, a huge truck shows up at the house and dumps a ton of gravel right next to a pile of the smellest compost you have ever encountered in your entire life not five feet from my front door. 

Did I mention I’m hosting Easter this year, apparently at the small table with no fireplace, but we’ll have the succinct pleasure of aromatic chicken shit to go with our roasted lamb. 

I’m rather displeased and not hiding it well. 

The topping on the cake, Larry ordered a pair of overalls to complete his suburban farmer’s look, I’m completely baffled. 

Those mysterious boxes contained four huge galvanized garden boxes for the vegetable garden he has conjured up for the backyard. There are also two circular containers that he has reserved for flowers at the entrance of the garden, and the pile of gravel will be spread between the containers to keep them neat, and you can walk on it. 

Are you getting the chills, or are we all coming down with the flu?

I suppose retirement is like gardening. We’re sowing the seeds of our savings that we’ve been growing for decades and spending them on bougie compost and tomato seeds. Does that sound like complaining? It’s really more of an observation. 

Okay, I agree, the metaphor is annoying, but I’m having trouble stopping myself. If retirement is a chance to redesign your life into something new and different, he may have missed the mark.

He put a call to his friend Greg who has a wicked garden in Napa, asking for planting advice. He called Sid to discuss irrigation options. And after his buddy Jim went to a five-hour glass on growing tomatoes (What the hell could they be teaching you for five hours?), apparently, there was a late-night emergency call about bougie compost. 

I recently discovered specialized dirt is all the rage in gardening circles and is currently a hot topic for cocktail parties. Who knew?

This outrageously expensive organic compost is created by combining organic waste such as food scraps, yard waste, mushrooms, and other organic materials (chicken poop) in a compost bin or pile. Over time, the organic matter breaks down into a nutrient-rich soil amendment that can be used to improve soil fertility, enhance plant growth, and reduce the need for synthetic fertilizers. 

There are so many things you will encounter in this life that no one ever needs to know. Bougie compost is one of them.

And now he wants to repurpose my dad’s sign, Grow Damn It, for his new project. I think that sort of nails the conundrum. Or maybe, like me, he wants to leave a legacy behind, and what better legacy is there than a beautiful garden? 

After retirement, I thought we would spend our days at leisure, me writing books, Larry riding bikes, both of us hosting family dinners, playing with the grandkids, and traveling about the world. Apparently, Larry thought he was going to spend his days playing in the dirt with the grandkids. What he didn’t know is he would actually be spending all his time and money at the hardware store buying tools, supplies, and bougie dirt. 

Imagine for a minute, you’re in the garden with Larry, surrounded by sturdy galvanized containers. Larry is holding the garden hose and casually spraying the recently planted seeds. This is how he gardens, fifteen minutes of effort followed by fifteen minutes of staring at the sky. What the hell is he thinking about? Certainly not my patio table.

Preparing for an amazing, incredible, mind-blowing retirement involves more than just making sure you’ve saved enough money, have your healthcare needs covered, and have your new budget scoped out. Larry read an article about increasing your wealth after retirement (of course he did). There is only one way to do that. Decrease the monthly nut. Drop the trunk clubs, duplicate cloud storage plans, 4,000 television channels, getting your nails done, your body waxed, and those fancy gym memberships. No more country clubs, magazine subscriptions, or Amazon Prime. Pay off loans and credit cards, and don’t buy anything. 

What the hell happened to his kick-ass retirement plan? I blame the snake, or maybe he’s trying to get back into the proverbial garden, aren’t we all? But we’ll need a table. Just sayin…

I suppose gardens remind us to be patient and generous because that is what they are all about. They have no delusions of grandeur. They know not what they are but humbly follow their genetic road map. They don’t have opinions about the other vegetables, nor do they want to mingle with the neighbor’s vines. They don’t envy or desire anything. They sort of surrender themselves to their given destiny, offer up all their fruits, and have this incredible potential for renewal. It’s practically the definition of love. No wonder Larry is so smitten. 

How do you determine the success of your retirement? I suppose you have to learn to appreciate the luxury of time, take advantage of new opportunities that come your way, and try and make a difference, if not in the world, in your own backyard. Then share your bounty with others. That is the ultimate yardstick for measuring any sort of success.

I’m warming to the idea of a bountiful garden with vegetables to share and flowers to arrange.

Maybe gardens are just little squares of dirt, organic compost, and seeds that require planning, watering, and weeding. You couldn’t come up with a better metaphor for the future. There is definitely planning involved (although Larry’s been removed from that committee), a fair amount of shit to deal with, nurturing the seeds of possibility, pulling out the weeds, and watering. Maybe with an encouraging sign like Grow Damn It, you’ll have adopted the perfect philosophy for life.

I’m Living in the Gap, rocking my new overalls, I’d love to know how you plan on watering your future? 

Here’s the link to Grow Damn It on Amazon. Read and enjoy all the reviews. Write one if you are so inspired.

Books Inc.

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  1. I was just thinking of you and your blog popped up in my Reader, you’ll live a hundred years (it’s an Indian superstition lol). My mum has gotten into gardening too and now I have an unlimited amount of onions.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Pooja, I like your Indian superstitions, and the fact you were thinking of me. You are so sweet. So onions are prolific? Good to know. We’re trying to decide what else we want to plant besides tomatoes! I would like to try artichokes and carrots. Larry wants pumpkins and cucumbers! I’ll suggest onions, maybe some garlic, and lettuce? The possibilities are endless and I’m excited to share the produce with the neighbors. Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We also say that when you hiccup it means someone is thinking of you. And if you say the right name the hiccups will go away. It’s silly but also fun to say names till they actually go away.
        Onions are very easy to grow and need little space. Plus, if you just use the leaves like we usually do they last ages. Garlic is something we’re planing on growing too. I don’t know if eating garlic leaves is a thing in the US but we use them often to add flavour to foods and would totally recommend them. You can also use the leaves instead of actual garlic to make garlic bread and it tastes so good. Let me know what you guys end up growing, I’m excited to see how it turns out and I’m sure your neighbours will appreciate that.


  2. I feel for your patio dreams, I do. But I’m a big fan of the gardening man. Is it occasionally smelly and always dirty? Yes. However, as the one who is always doing the grocery shopping and cooking, I love that I can go out back and grab some salad greens (am about to do that in a minute actually) to help make dinner dreams happen. And I have zero part in the gardening. You should see our compost setup–ha! We are decidedly village-rural here and not so much suburban (as in no HOA) so my husband has a whole area in the back devoted to compost–2 big rotating drums of the stuff. It is pretty magical when you do it yourself. What else would I do with all the broccoli I let go yellow in the hydrator? Keep us posted on your usurped backyard, my friend!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I knew if I told people about Larry’s garden it would backfire on me, and everyone would love his vision for the backyard, minus my oversized table and fire feature. The man is on a mission and it’s all coming together. I have to admit I’m warming to the idea of fresh salad supplies just steps from the patio! And no supermarket lines! Apparently, everyone has exercised their green thumb but me. Now I’ll have to do regular updates on Larry’s Garden! What is my blog coming to? I’ll have to rename it, Living in the Garden or Grow Damn It! Bahaha! Thanks for digging in with me Rebecca, and helping me focus on the finer things about playing in the dirt and spending half our 401 on organic compost! I’ll keep you posted on the rabbit food and lush bounty! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Seriously, I’m the only one who thinks compost in the suburbs is crass? Clearly, I’ve been overruled again. But I like the way you think Elizabeth. And Father’s Day is coming up…if you can’t beat them, join them. Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’ve made me reflect on my mom’s amazing garden. She grew all the normal veggies like lettuce, radishes, tomatoes, carrots, beans, peas and corn. But she also had eggplant, asparagus, artichokes, spaghetti squash and zucchini.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You’re literally giving me “food” for thought! I didn’t think of peas and asparagus. This little adventure might be really fun and flavorful! I can only imagine how beautiful your mom’s garden must have been. Thanks for the ideas. Hugs, C

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I love “And by everyone, I’m speaking of the one in need of glasses.” Ha, ha, ha!

    There’s something full-circle about Larry using your dad’s sign that is growing on me. I imagine he’s looking down with approval and that will warm your table figuratively even if you don’t have the fire pit to do it literally.

    A lovely post and analogy, my friend!! ❤ ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good morning Wynne, we’ve been in the car since early this morning driving up to the lake. Oh how I love that one person in the world gets my humor! Thank you. And yes, when I went out to see the progress of Larry’s Little Farm (next post) and he said he wanted to use my dad’s sign, I just smiled. It was like you said, “full-circle.” Oh yes, my dad still has his hand in things. Thanks for your lovely response. Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The Jumper Seat? I read the whole thing waiting to find out why he had bought a jumper seat for a vehicle you didn’t own, and you didn’t tell us.
    We have an old expression over here, “Five-minute wonder”.
    I fear Larry’s home farm will be one. I hope I am wrong.
    (I would have the table and fire. But it’s still too cold here for 10 months of the year to enjoy sitting outside after dark.)
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pete, you’re the best, thank you for alerting me that my readers can’t yet read my mind! I went back and amended the story! The jumper seat was sent to us by mistake by Amazon. Someone else has our second set of garden boxes. We notified Amazon, they had us send back the jumper seat, and the second set of garden boxes arrived on Tuesday. The garden is now put together. He’s working on the watering system next, then seeds, and I guess we’ll be eating like rabbits by mid-summer. I’m still working on the table and fire but to no avail. We use our outdoor patio like another room as ten months out of the year it is pleasant enough in California to eat out side. And now we’ll have tomatoes. I’ll keep you posted on Larry’s five-minute wonder! Thanks for the alerting me of the missing piece, made the whole story even more mysterious. Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It sounds like a pretty impressive set up that Larry has going on for your garden. If you need a consultation from the farmer and his wife just let us know. We will come visit and run our hands though your glorious chicken shit.
    I hope you savor every bite of those homegrown tomatoes. Just don’t do the math to figure out the cost of each one. There is something truly delightful about growing your own food. I hope Larry’s project becomes the “food” for many more future blog posts!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Gail, Larry is really taking this whole retirement thing a little too seriously. He has a myriad of projects going on, from farming the side yard, to travel agent extraordinaire, and figuring out how to ship a tandem bike to Japan! We might need a little consultation from our favorite farmer and his wife. At the very least you can evaluate the produce! I’m thinking an evening dinner under the California stars, roaring fire, large “new” table, and fresh tomatoes! There might be wine involved, which means Jim and Sue will be over! We’d love that. And I hear you might have some extra time on your hands in the next few months? We have much to catch up on! Hugs, Cheryl


    1. Thank you Daniel! Love the thought of you giggling through the story. I’ve told Larry a million times, people would love to hear your perspective on all these stories. Believe me when I say it would not resemble anything I said. Sometimes, it feels as if the two of us are living amazingly different lives but we’re doing it in tandem! You would enjoy Larry. I’m still pulling for a lake retreat with our spouses someday! Wouldn’t that be something? Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “I’ve told Larry a million times, people would love to hear your perspective on all these stories.”

        Absolutely! The man sounds like a genius in the way he navigates…
        “the two of us are living amazingly different lives but we’re doing it in tandem!”

        … with you. What a team. When you said this I actually saw it. Larry’s version written in ‘tandem’ with yours. The mind boggles around possible names immediately. And I laugh even thinking of what he might produce.

        “You would enjoy Larry.”

        Yes, yes I would.

        There’s a part of his impulsiveness and the ‘I’ve got the best idea of anyone on the planet on this one, just watch…’ that reminds me so much of my Dad. I’ve always said I’d give a lot of money to have that sort of confidence without having to work for it, and still falling short, as I have. The way it helps in social settings and the fun it creates is so, well, fun. And we all need more fun to help pull the release valve in life don’t we.

        ” I’m still pulling for a lake retreat with our spouses someday! Wouldn’t that be something?”

        I will never tire of having this mentioned and a possible reality. It would be a dream. I feel as if I would spend the first thirty minutes in tears of joy for just being physically in everyone’s company – even if that might scare the spouses away! 😂 (well not mine, she is somewhat used to my highly attuned tear ducts by now).

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Confidence is a interesting word. Depending on who you’re referring to it can have different connotations. There’s the bold confidence like Larry’s but there’s also the quiet confidence like my sister possesses and a world of unique types in between. I like people who are confident in their own skin, in their own way, in their individual capacity. Like the mighty Geckos! I think we recognize this in each other. Anyway, my confidence and Larry’s are often at odds with each other but it keeps things interesting. About that retreat! Let’s set a date! Even if we had to adjust, we’d have that to hang onto! Hugs my friend, love, C

          Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m so happy for Larry, Cheryl. Coaxing life from the soil is one of my absolute pleasures, and I suspect he’s caught the bug. It’s peaceful to putter around out there, and to put your healthy fresh food on the table for the family to enjoy is rewarding. I’m glad he’s doing it the right way too by preparing the soil and putting down all that gravel. It’s definitely worth the effort. It’s the perfect hobby for retirement.

    I know you’ll find a way to fit the family back there too. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m warming to the idea Diana! He has the small space looking pretty snazzy with galvanized bins all neatly surrounded by gravel and full of “organic compost,” a.k.a. shit. Now we’ll just have to see if anything grows. The sign might help. I think the play area we put in for the kids thirty years ago is the next to go. It would allow him to expand his garden and I’m thinking a bocce court along the back fence might be fun for all my adult children. We’re browsing through seed catalogues and dreaming about the salad we’ll be enjoying this summer. I’m actually excited about all the fresh produce. It has been keeping him busy and in my book that’s a good thing. I’m still lobbying for the table and fire feature! Hugs, C


      1. Bocce is a blast. I play that with my adult kids too. We play in our field and have the added feature of never knowing where the balls will bounce off to. Lol. And I’m sure you’ll fit your fire feature in somewhere.

        I used to help shovel manure into my dad’s garden every spring as a kid. 50 years later, the smell of cow shit still evokes memories of spring. Lol

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I think bocce would be a fabulous yard attraction! That’s my main purpose in life, dangle enough carots and the kids will come home. Larry took the adage quite literally! I realize smells can be powerfully associated with our memories but I have tried to block anything that has to do with shit from my fondest recollections. I’m praying spring continues to be evoked by chocolate, burgers on the grill, and fresh cut grass as opposed to compost! Time will tell…

          Liked by 1 person

  7. “What the hell could they be teaching you for five hours?” I couldn’t stop laughing.
    We need pictures if he really did buy overalls.
    I really want that table with the built-in fireplace for you. Or perhaps a little for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There is permanent dirt under Larry’s nails, his gardening attire is atrocious (I’ll include a pic with the garden update), and every gardener we know has been calling to give him “inside” tips! What the hell? I’m trying to hold my dad’s sign hostage to my table and fire feature but we’ll see. Secretly, I’m sort of excited about the garden, and if the benefits of organic compost are actually true, we’ll be enjoying some incredible produce this summer! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  8. It sounds like he was on a mission. Gardens are lovely, but I do love the image of your fireplace, and table for twelve to gather around. I hope both can find their way to your backyard. ❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi LaDonna, sorry for the delay, we had a sheep shearing event in Lake Country and we’ve been out of town. Larry is definitely on a mission. He’s running to the hardware store as I’m writing this for more sprinkler parts. I’m actually really excited for the first produce to appear out of the depths of bougie dirt. He’s been talking about the new table and fire feature. I think they will be part of the near future. I wait patiently, as life has taught me, all things in their own time. I love when I see your name in the comments! Hope this week has been good to you! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Having grown up playing those cute, Japanese role-playing farming games, the idea of a personal garden to grow vegetables in sounds absolutely lovely to me!😍 I am sure you’ll begin to love that little patch of loveliness quite soon. I hope you get your fireplace and a huge table, too, because they sound equally amazing. Your posts are always so wholesome and beautifully penned. Have a great week, Chery! 😊💖

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Aaysid, so glad to find you here in the comments. We’ve been out of town for a few days and I’m finally getting back the computer. I have warmed to the idea of a garden. I was actually outside watering with the grandkids yesterday! I can not wait to see the vegetables start growing and gracing our table (hopefully a big one). I might need a pair of overalls too. Thank you so much for your kinds words. You warm my heart. Much love and hugs to you, C

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m with you on the garden design Cheryl, but Larry makes a good point – self-sustaining is something we all need to think about in today’s world. One the other hand, it would have been nice if he’d discussed his plans with you before he put them in action. LOL 🙂 ❤ xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The strangest thing has happened Debby. I’m warming to the garden. Now that it’s all put together, and self watering, it really is quite nice. I think I might enjoy growing our own rabbit food. We’re still discussing my table and fire feature but it might be postponed until later this year. I think I can live with that. Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Larry is a hot mess! LOL
    There is something amazing about a garden. I love being out in mine and it sparks creativity for the rest of your yard. So hopefully it will light a spark in Larry to get your dream backyard done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bahaha, “Larry is a hot mess,” no truer words have ever been written! I’ve climbed on board the hippy garden train and now I’m out there looking for new sprouts! It’s rather exciting. He’s softening to my table and fire feature! So there’s hope. But more than that he’s added to our yard in a way that hard to express. Growing your own food. That’s down to earth goodness. Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  12. It’s been so fun catching up at your place, waiting on my kids,…thinking of you. You’ve grown a lifetime of wisdom, friends, memories, laughter. You share your bounty with us! It is the secret to growing success. And I’m all about that 12 seat table! I raise my wine glass to new adventures, new growth, “pruning” the unnecessary, and sharing the bounty! That’s the dirt I love sharing! And I love you so much! 💛🙏🏻💕


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